Bad culture developing?



  • If Lee has anything else to say, I would love to hear it. But I wouldn't be surprised if he is gone baby gone.
  • I am here. I am just letting things settle a bit before I really comment. I would rather not react too hastily.
  • Just an observation: the reason all this recent noise lasted so long had nothing to do with racism. It was about one side saying some variation of "what you have said offends me, and that brings with it an obligation on you to change your behavior to placate my offense" and the other side saying some variation of "no".

    And now a judgement: if you are the offended party in such a case, you can scream, you can reason, you can try to convince, you can even find the guy and punch him in the face; however, you almost certainly lack any authority to force a change in the offender's mind. You definitely lack the ability. A mind has to change itself.
  • Posted By: TomasHVMI'm ok with Adam moderating his forum.
    Who's Adam, and which forum are you talking about? ;)

    Sometimes it's very, very hard to know whether to take you seriously. With nearly anyone else, I'd think something like this was a sly little joke to see who would call them on it, but with you? I really don't know if you even noticed that you did this or not.
  • Wordman: so do you mean that because we can't force someone to change their mind, telling them that their behavior is offensive and HURTFUL in the first place (because let's not kid ourselves here, culturally or otherwise insensitive behavior causes PAIN, people are HURT, this is NOT just about political correctness or some stuck-up person getting their delicate fee-fees in a twist) is a waste?

    Also, if you meant the second part to be the only judgmental thing, you might want to consider your wording. "Placate my offense" implies there was no real hurt.

    Just in general, I am getting very sick of people treating this matter as though Nameless is the only one who MAYBE POSSIBLY may have the right to say something, and even then he was probably just misunderstanding, and the rest of us are obviously only trying to score points in some ridiculous social game.
  • It seems to me that this conversation mostly just contains too many assumptions about how someone else is thinking, why they are thinking that way, etc.

    Whether or not Tomas and Lee worked things out in the sense of feeling emotionally better about the thread, I have no idea, but from my point of view it was definitely the case that both of them achieved greater clarity as the thread moved along in terms of where they were coming from, what they were actually saying, where they disagreed, etc.. As in, I felt like I understood both of them better, and had to make fewer assumptions about what they were saying and/or who they were as people. This doesn't mean I agreed with either of them any more or less, but it focused whatever disagreement there was on things they were actually saying, and ways they were actually acting.

    I'm happy that both of them stuck with the conversation, and I'm happy that I followed it long enough for things to become clearer. And nobody is under any obligation to stick with a thread like that, but I do feel that people who passed judgment quickly, in either direction -- and made a point of bringing that judgment into the thread -- have a greater responsibility to stick with it (as a reader) and see if their judgment bears out. (Greater, not absolute, sometimes you're just too pissed off or it just isn't worth it for whatever reason.)
  • I want to open with an apology. The quote that Andy picked me up on was much too vaguely put, at least in the second half, and probably came across as six times snarkier than indeed. I agree with more or less everything Andy said in response. Indeed, empathy is the reason I'm in these discussions - I don't have a dog in this fight otherwise. So sorry about that. I must learn to delete my throwaway comments - they're always the ones that cause the most trouble. If anyone wants to know what I really meant, whisper me, but it's not important any more, if it ever was.

    Eero said most of my opinion already, but I'd like to point out that there is more than one question being discussed here, and these include:

    (i) Whether the game that Tomas is running is in some way intrinsically unethical because of its treatment of racial and cultural issues, for example by equating Indians with Orcs
    (ii) Whether Tomas's game will in fact work as he intends, or will go horribly wrong in some way
    (iii) Whether Tomas's tone in these discussions is something that people find unacceptable

    I think (i) is settled beyond all reasonable doubt: it doesn't do that and it isn't offensive. Information about what Tomas was doing emerged in a misleading way, especially if you hadn't been reading his "Colonial Fabula" thread, and gave a terrible initial impression, but to quote Lee, since he puts it so well, "This thread may have been a little different if this was in the opening post...So the goal is to explore the racism and xenophobia inherent in colonialism, in a somewhat generic situation, using fantasy as an analogy to remove people from the easily taken stance that "Humans are humans, duh..." [long description of some good ideas about how to make this work]... If you can pull that off, it will be a campaign of legendary status." Lee, if you think I'm misrepresenting you here, please do correct me, but my impression of your posts is that once Tomas had explained himself properly, you basically approved of his intent, but you had misgivings about whether it would work as intended.

    (Some people have argued that I should be open to the possibility that Tomas's campaign *really is* offensive, just because some people have thought so at some time. I disagree. If someone has misread DitV so badly that they think Vincent is an apologist for Mormons being the sole repository of truth, they are simply mistaken, and Vincent doesn't have to take their feeling of offence as a serious criticism of DitV, nor should he. To my mind, reading Tomas's campaign as "American Indians were smelly evil subhumans" falls exactly into this category. It's just a complete mistake, albeit a far more understandable one.)

    Which brings me to (ii). Whether Tomas's ideas will truly work as intended is very hard for anyone to say, even Tomas. But if you take him at his word, he runs a kind of RPG that is markedly different from those that most of us play, and he has put in a truly extraordinary amount of time doing so, more than most of us can even dream of doing. This being so, I don't have the chutzpah to tell him what I think will and won't work at his table. If you do, dear reader, good luck to you, but don't be surprised if he doesn't take your advice very seriously; I haven't noticed him asking for it. (And if you don't take him at his word, I can't understand why you're wasting your time offering him advice. That just seems illogical.) You may think Tomas is arrogant for ignoring your advice, but he may just be being realistic. I really don't see how you can be sure which it is.

    Lastly (iii), which is obviously a matter of opinion. I think many of the complaints levelled against Tomas are in fact that people don't like his posting tone, whether they say so clearly or not. I'll be frank: I'm not wild about it myself at times. But I don't know how much of it is a deliberate choice, how much is Scandinavian vs British culture, how much is the handicap of not being able to post in Norwegian, and how much is the familiar problem of online communication. I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt as far as I can, firstly because I think that's a good idea, and secondly because he shows every sign otherwise of being patient, kind and thoughtful. If you (dear reader) choose to cut him less slack, that's your decision, but own it as your choice to do so and be prepared to justify it if asked, rather than taking umbrage.

    My learning point in all of this is that if I am *ever* going to ask people for information about their families, their culture, their traditions, any kind of history that arouses controversy, I am going to make damn sure that I explain at the very outset exactly why I am asking, and exactly what I plan to do with that info. Because it's very difficult to change people's impressions later on when they have the wrong end of the stick and are justifiably angry (in the sense that what they perceive would indeed be offensive).

    I don't blame anyone for misreading Tomas originally. The situation was confusing, and it was almost bound to happen. But I'm critical of the tendency to condemn rather than question, and I'm struggling to see how some posters are apparently maintaining a sense of offence even now. What is this ongoing wound? How can it be healed?
  • In terms of "bad culture", my problem is not with colonial fantasy & orcs/indians as such. Around here we did that 20 years ago, so it doesn't seem all that edgy. My problem is with specific points of debating technique, dismissable as "tone" if that 's your thing, but a bit more technical than that.

    To be precise, my problem is with Tomas demanding that his interpretations be treated as neutral, objective fact. The concrete interpretations were 1) orcs are a neutral, content-free symbol, rather than an accepted shorthand for "humanoid non-people monsters that it's morally OK to kill and plunder" and 2) you can base your ficticious orcs and the in-play situations that you set up with them on native american history and still fairly claim that they contain no smidgin of native american. Both of these are debatable, to say the least. Once the native american cat came out of the bag, Tomas demanded, stridently, that his interpretations on these rather important points be treated as neutral and unassailable fact rather than interpretations. This came across to me as aggravatingly arrogant, not to mention unconstructive. I suspect a lot of the rancour grew out of that.

    In terms of debating culture, I believe it is quite important to distinguish between really factual facts and personal interpretations, no matter how fond one might be of them. Oh, and for what it's worth, I'm scandinavian too, so no great cultural chasm at work here.

    Also, flirting by pissing on people's feet? Really? If for some strange reason I wanted to communicate "mating habits of the yellow bellied tree wee as told by David Attenborough" rather than "customs of ethnic group NN", that is one BRILLIANT touch. If the intention wasn't a masterful show of othering in practice, not so much. Yes, I realise this is sarcasm, and as such not itself a constructive debating technique, but... flirting by pissing on people's feet?!
  • Guys,

    This isn't about how Tomas' game plays out at his table. This isn't about some kind of academic anthropology, where we look at some kind of checklist and once a certain amount of checks are ticked off, our disapproval is set off.

    Again, this is very personal. It is about someone sharing intimate details of their life and having those details turned to the creation of an ugly metaphor, a hideous fantasy creation. You can toss up all of the red herrings you want: "Its only orcs!" "Maus!" "You word choices could have been nicer, Judd!" The face is someone posted a thread asking for details and when those details were shared by Lee in an amazing post, the bait and switch was unveiled.

    Mistakes happen but once it was pointed out to be problematic, we were assured that we were just reading it incorrectly.

    And the red herrings continue. From the "Hey look! I talked to a non-white person once and it was awesome...also, poetry!" reputation repair thread to chastising me for not being nice enough and saying that we shouldn't say anything in support of Lee.


    You can hide under the flimsy umbrella of rational discourse all you want. Shitty things can be said with a perfectly level, rational tone.

    When you take the details of someone's life and make something shitty out of it, you can be sure that I will tell you its ugly when I think its ugly. I'm sorry if that is too much for your delicate, rational discourse.
  • edited November 2011
    Never, in all the history of the Sanctimonious Olympics, have I ever seen such a spectacular two-way tie for the Gold, sportsfans.

    Not since the 1971 bout between Jim Morrison and Billy Jack have two white knights felt such pain of the American Indian with more passion.

    I salute the Norwegian and the American contenders, high atop their respective horses.

    I do so, not just on my own behalf, but on behalf of a poor little diabetic Hopi girl. She and I share a special bond. You wouldn't understand it, pigs.

    Shame, shame on you all.

  • edited November 2011
    Unhelpful/Sanctimonious comment(s) deleted.

    What is said is what was said. Whether folks bridge the gaps from there is up to their actions in the future.

    Thanks for your understanding. Time for the closing I mentioned above.

    This thread: Closed for Business.

    (my email is in my profile if anyone wants to talk to me further/directly on this or other issues)
This discussion has been closed.